Bemidji city officials reviewing governor's order to lift mask mandate
The city of Bemidji created a mask mandate last summer to mitigate the coronavirus that was in effect for only a few days. It came to an end when Gov. Tim Walz implemented a statewide mask mandate. On Friday, Walz signed an order bringing the mandate to an close.
BEMIDJI -- On Friday Gov. Tim Walz signed an order ending the mask mandate set in place to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic. In response, officials with the city of Bemidji are reviewing the order's language to determine how to update local guidelines.
The city implemented a face mask requirement on July 21, 2020 . Later that week, Walz started a statewide mandate.
"When the governor's went into effect, our local mandate ended," City Manager Nate Mathews said. "So, we've been following the governor's mandate the whole time as a city."
In his comments this week, Walz said, "there will be decisions that can be made by local businesses, local jurisdictions and certainly in the health care industry, as is relatively normal. People will continue to mask in some of those settings."
The move by Walz came shortly after the Center for Disease Control announced those who are fully vaccinated can resume activities without wearing a mask or staying six feet apart, except when it's required by governments or businesses. The CDC will still require masks to be worn by travelers on public transportation in the United States.
The CDC is also recommending those who are vaccinated but develop symptoms, get tested and wear a mask during that time.
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While the mandate is coming to an end, though, rules will remain in place for local schools. Bemidji Area Schools released an announcement on Friday morning confirming that existing face-covering guidance for schools and child care settings will remain in effect through the last day of school.
The requirement is because the majority of Minnesota's students are not fully vaccinated. Vaccines have not been authorized for people age 12 and younger, and those ages 12-15 were made eligible only this week.
As of Friday afternoon, nearly 2.7 million Minnesotans have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine and 2.26 million have completed their vaccine series. Since the pandemic hit Minnesota in March 2020, the state has had 592,750 confirmed cases and 7,283 deaths.
Locally, Beltrami County has recorded 3,955 COVID cases since the pandemic began.